High cost of running an Unlimited Hydroplane Team - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

High cost of running an Unlimited Hydroplane Team

It's an expensive sport.  About $200,000 for the hull.  $100,000 for running gear, gearbox, rudder and steering.  Want two Lycoming T-55 L-7 engines?  They're about $80,000 a piece, so figure at least $150,000 for the pair.

Props run a whopping $10,000 a piece... you better have a few of those.  $50k for a trailer.  Then you've got the paint job ($30k?) and all the extra pieces and parts you need (spare shafts, cowlings, air systems, gearboxes, radios) can run you another $100,000.

Then you've got to store it (maybe $3,000 a month) and transport it to each race site. Hotel costs, meals.... well, you get the picture.

That's why sponsorships are critical for the boat teams.

Ever wonder what it costs to sponsor a team?  It depends on the level of sponsorship, but a national sponsor can be in the $300,000 range.  That's what Simpatico Beer allegedly paid to be the name sponsor of the U-21 Freedom Racing team in 2006.

What did they get for that?  Exposure and lots of it.  Pictures, interviews, and name exposure in magazines, newspapers, TV and radio.  Sponsor logos and names will be seen and heard throughout the country at the race sites - more than a million race fans at the venues.  Local coverage from KIRO-TV in Seattle and KNDU-TV in Tri-Cities, WA are beamed into millions of homes.  And millions more on cable TV.  Last year's four race TV series on Fox Sports made its way to tens of millions of homes. 

Formula Boats stepped into the sport of hydroplane racing in a big way in 2006. In its case, sponsorship came first, then boat ownership.  When Ted Porter acquired the two former Miss Budweiser hulls and signed up Mike Weber, it was after a year when Formula Boats saw success from its sponsorship.

"The biggest weekend was in Seattle," Weber said; "because they had no (Formula Boat) dealers in Seattle."  Formula Boats had a display boat at all the races. But they sold three boats in Seattle just from people walking by and talking to the sales people about the displays. Then they signed a dealer in Seattle. Said Weber: "That had a big affect on them coming on board in a big way."

Motor sports fans are said to be the most "brand loyal" of all sports fans. The Oberto Sausage Company has been back year-after-year, sponsoring Steve David and the U-6. "They sell a lot of beef jerky," said David.

Boat racing fans are brand loyal.  That's why sponsors are often willing to spend thousands of dollars to sponsor local race sites.  If you've ever wondered what it costs to sponsor certain events at a race site or what you get for your money, we've got some answers below.

The profile of a typical race fan shares some similarities with NASCAR fans.  Here's the most often quote profile:

  • Married with families
  • 25-54 years old
  • Above average income
  • Home owners
  • Multiple automobile owners

Male = 55%
Female = 45%

Professional = 52%
Skilled Labor = 32%

Education Level:
Post Grad Degree = 5%
Attend/Grad College = 57%
High School Grad = 31%
Other = 7%

55+ = 5%
35-54 = 32%
25-34 = 27%
18-24 = 20%
Under 18 = 16%

Household Income:
Under $20k = 16%
$20k - $30k = 17%
$50k - $75k = 20%
$30k - $50k = 31%
$75k + = 16%

SOURCE:  San Diego Regatta